The Japanese unit of German automaker BMW AG said on Thursday it expected solid sales growth in 2002, Reuters reports.

The report says that new Bmw Japan Corp President Ludwig Willisch told a news conference he expected sales of BMW brand vehicles to rise to 38,000-40,000 in 2002. That compares with sales of 36,253 vehicles in 2001 (which was flat on the previous year).

The addition of the new MINI is also cited as a positive factor for BMW Group in Japan. Sales are targeted at 9,000-10,000 units per annum.

The backdrop to auto sales in Japan remains difficult however, with a sluggish economy and falling prices causing consumers to hold back.